Cobh Ramblers’ first outing of 2015 takes place this Friday night as they travel the short journey to Douglas Hall for the quarter-final of the Munster Senior Cup.
Hall are the current holders of the competition, beating Premier Division Limerick FC 2-1 in last year’s final at Turner’s Cross.
Douglas beat Cobh at the same stage last season on their path to the final in a 2-0 victory at Moneygourney. It was the Southside club’s first time winning the tournament and they will be hoping to go all the way again this year. With half a season already under their belt, fitness will not be a problem for the hosts who have a number of players with League of Ireland experience including Derek Varian formerly of Cork City and ex-Cobh stalwart Mark Clifford.
The Hall are currently sixth in the Munster Senior League Premier Division after a solid campaign so far and have already beaten Ballincollig and Ringmahon Rangers to get to the quarter-final stage.
The Rams have won the competition on four occasions but one has to go back to 1983 for their last victory, against Clonmel Town. They have been beaten finalists however as recently as 2008. The tie is the opener to their pre-season campaign with further friendlies to be announced in due course.
Ramblers will be without the cup-tied duo of Andrew Bhandarkar and Graham McCarthy who have already featured in the tournament for Casement Celtic and Avondale respectively whilst new arrival Peter White is also unavailable for the game. U19 goalkeeper Eoghan Daly will be included in the squad following a number of impressive performances recently.
The game could see Ramblers debuts for a number of players with Shane O’Connor, Steven McCarthy and Ross McCarthy all signing for the club in the off-season. There has been a lot of transfer activity at the club in recent months and experienced players such as Martin Deady, Robert Birdsall and Craig Burns have left but overall Martin Cambridge’s squad looks to be in a better position this season.
The competition is often used as an opportunity to draft in some younger players but besides the aforementioned Eoghan Daly, that may not be the case as Stephen Bermingham’s u19s host Athlone Town the following day in a vital Southern Division clash.
It’s an 8pm start at Moneygourney for the tie and it should make for an entertaining clash. Whilst Douglas were victors when the sides met last year, it was a very weak Cobh side that day and if the Rams are at full strength they could prove difficult to stop. The Hall are unbeaten in all four Munster Cup meetings between the sides but that may come to an end this week.
The winner of the tie will host either Waterford United or Avondale in the semi-finals.
Thomas Stafford, Pundit Arena.